Oven Temperature Testing

Back in the old days great-grandma didn’t have a reliable temperature gauge on her oven. She wasn’t as dependent upon an exact oven temperature the way that today’s modern cooks and bakers are.
Great-grandma was a wiz in the kitchen  and even though she cooked on wood or coal fired stoves she managed to turn out perfect baked and roasted foods.

Cook Stove

A Tea Kettle On A Cook Stove

Great-grandma’s recipes were written different from ours are today and gave no exact temperature for baking.
Her “receipts” as she called them, suggested a “slow oven” or a “very hot oven”.
Sometimes you can still find these older recipes and it’s a good idea to know what they mean if ever you should have cause to try one.

Great-grandma used a used a few different methods to judge her oven temperature and I thought I’d share the ones I know about with you.
To check an oven for a good baking temperature place a tablespoon of flour into a piece of oven proof crockery or glass.
If the flour turns brown in 1 minute the oven is a perfect temperature for baking – between 325ºF and 350ºF.

My personal old-time favorite method is the bare hand into the oven for a count of 20.
If great-grandma could stand to have her bare hand inserted into the oven for a count to 20, the oven was hot enough to bake a cake or slow roast meat – about 350º.
If she could only take the heat to a count of 5 or 6 the oven was very hot oven – well over 475º.

Another way to check oven temperature without toasting your hand is to put a piece of white paper into the oven for 5 minutes.
If the paper turns a golden brown the oven heat is medium. If the piece of paper turns a dark brown the oven is hot.

Oven Paper

Paper Turns Light Brown

Here are some general guidelines for oven temperatures in case you do run into an older recipe but don’t want to bother with flour, paper or the flesh on your hand.

  • A Slow Oven: 250ºF. to 300ºF.
  • A Moderate Oven: 350ºF. to 400ºF.
  • Hot Oven: 400ºF. to 450ºF.
  • Very Hot Oven: 450º F.to 550ºF.

Pie Bird In A Pie